Thank you to our partners: The Maven Group and Carrot-Top Industries

Our Story

Miles Charles

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Bonjour je m'appelle Miles Charles, I’m 15 years old and I attend East Chapel Hill. I have a dual citizenship with France and I spent more than half a year living in France with my mom and sister. I’ve always been extremely interested in history and how it affects us. I’ve always wanted to shine more light on minorities who served in the war and whose service was overlooked and deemed unimportant, these people are called hidden figures. What inspired me to participate in this project was my grandfather. My grandfather passed away earlier this year and I was unable to say goodbye to him or visit him around the time he passed. He was a French senator and a Princeton Professor. He loved the country of France with everything he had and I was never able to understand and obtain the love he had for France. I’m doing this project for him and so I can honor him in my own way.

Cathy Charles

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Hi! My name is Cathy Charles, and I attend Chapel Hill High School. I consider myself to be a leader in sports as well as an active member in my community by volunteering weekly through a leadership organization at the YMCA. My dream is to one day speak French fluently and to become a surgeon. My hobbies include playing soccer and basketball as well as traveling.

In March of 2017, as an eighth grader, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to France and Belgium through the Belgian exchange program which is run through Smith middle school. We went to the American cemetery in Normandy and walked reverently on Omaha Beach. My middle school principal Stephon Goode, who also attended the trip said something  that has remained with me: the amount of people in the cemetery is about ten times the size of our school. When looking back on WWI and WW2 it can be difficult to comprehend the emotional & physical effects of war. By being a leader in this project, I intend to further expand my knowledge past simple statistics from a textbook and truly understand the impact of war and the price of liberty. 

Matthew Griesedieck

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My name is Matthew. I am a 16 year old sophomore at Chapel Hill High School. I am very interested in learning languages and hope to speak several fluently one day. I also love travel and experiencing new cultures. I am very excited to take part in this project because I feel that it is our duty to serve the men and women that have served us.

My grandfather served as a bombardier in the Air Force during World War II. His plane was shot down over Berlin and he was taken as prisoner of war in a prison near the Baltic Sea. Fortunately, he was freed and managed to survive the war. He was lucky because many people did not survive. He passed away when I was too young to understand all that he did and I am using this trip as a way to recognize and thank him for his service. I firmly believe that anybody who has put their life on the line for our country deserves so much more than what we can give but this project is an attempt to thank our veterans for everything they have done. 

I have been to Normandy before, as a part of the Belgian Exchange, to visit the American Cemetery and Omaha beach with the five other members of this project and it was truly an amazing experience. Ever since then, I have wanted to return with someone who has experienced war. I can not wait to return to Normandy for the 75th commemoration ceremonies and hear their stories.

Daniel Price

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Bonjour, my name is Daniel Price, I am 15 years old and I go to East Chapel HIll high school. I have always had a fascination in history, especially surrounding the World War II era. After traveling with my classmates on the 2016 Belgian Exchange, we spent some time in Normandy, and I have wanted to return ever since. Our visit to World War II battle sites and museums was the most impactful part of the trip for me, and visiting the American Cemetery really opened my eyes on the events took place there and inspired my desire to bring a veteran back to the lands they liberated. When I was young my 2 great Uncles passed away, both of which fought on the pacific front of the 2nd world war. I never had the opportunity to meet them or hear this stories. This project feels like a way to honor them and what they sacrificed to bring peace to the world. The people buried in the cemetery paid the ultimate price to secure France from occupation. We want to bring back these veterans so they can see how they have impacted the future generation of France and return to the lands that they liberated.

Kaelyn Elien

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Cou Cou! I am Kaelyn Elien, a 15 year old girl originally from Shaker Heights, Ohio. I am a dancer and pianist. I love adventure and going to new places. I was intrigued by this project because I believe it is key that people should be able to view events from the different experiences of people and groups who were there. I feel if our world can do this we can create better community. I am participating in this project to break many stereotypes. There are many hidden figures who were in the World War II who were not given the honor they deserve (people of color, women, any other person who was considered a minority in that time period). While in Normandy, I connected with the story of a woman, Elizabeth Smith, who participated in the Women’s Auxiliary. During one of the invasions on D-Day, she was selected to fly a plane due to the lack of pilots available. She was surprisingly honored in the cemetery, but their was only a little passage written on her behalf in the museum. There is more to what these people did and I want to be able to give them the recognition they deserve.

Elena Lowinger

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Bonjour! My name is Elena Lowinger, and I am a sophomore at Chapel Hill High School. I have always felt a connection with World War II, as I am Jewish and enjoy learning about history and politics. My family has been very affected by WW2 and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to work with veterans to honor my family members who lost their lives before their homelands of Europe were freed. From this project, I hope to have a deeper understanding of such important historic events and to give the veterans an opportunity to see the lands they liberated that are now peaceful. I volunteer often in my free time and am proud to commit more of my time to these men and women that served. 

NC to Normandy students share ~ an impromptu conversation

Taking a pause from a Sunday work session at Smith Middle School, the NC to Normandy students just start talking....and to let you know what's in their hearts and minds.